LeBron leads all in early All-Star returns

Expectedly, LeBron James leads all vote-getters in the early return of NBA All-Star Ballots. Unsurprisingly as well, Kobe Bryant is on pace to start for the Western Conference in the backcourt despite only making his return a week ago and appearing in just two games for the Lakers.

That is to be expected, the All-Star voting remains more of a popularity contest rather than a measure of who is actually deserving of the honor of starting.

Currently, though, the All-Star starting lineup for the East could be particularly interesting.

Last year the NBA switched its ballot from the traditional two guards, two forwards and a center to three frontcourt players and two backcourt players. This would theoretically accomodate the changing nature of positions in the NBA.

In the East, however, the trio of LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are about 200,000 votes clear of Roy Hibbert for the three frontcourt spots. That means the East would trot out a lineup without a true center. Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving are slated to start at guard at the moment with the injured Derrick Rose trailing Irving by about 100,000 votes.

Kobe Bryant is the leading vote-getter among Western backcourt players and would start with Chris Paul if the game were tomorrow. Stephen Curry trades Paul by about 7,000 votes.

Kevin Durant is the leading vote-getter among Western Conference players. Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin would start, but hold a slim lead over Kevin Love. There is going to be a lot of size out West which should make for a fun All-Star matchup at the beginning.

Voting continues through January. Fans can vote for their All-Star starters at NBA.com or by tweeting their vote with the player's first and last name and the hashtag #NBABallot.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily